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Telehealth: Opportunities to Improve Access, Quality, and Cost in Pediatric Care

Alison Curfman, MD, MBA, FAAP; Jesse M. Hackell, MD, FAAP; Neil E. Herendeen, MD, MS, FAAP; Joshua Alexander, MD, FAAP; James P. Marcin, MD, MPH, FAAP; William B. Moskowitz, MD, FAAP; Chelsea E. F. Bodnar, MD, MPhil, FAAP; Harold K. Simon, MD, MBA, FAAP; S. David McSwain, MD, FAAP; SECTION ON TELEHEALTH CARE, COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE, COMMITTEE ON PEDIATRIC WORKFORCE. Pediatrics (Feb 2022) 149 (3): e2021056035.

The use of telehealth technology to connect with patients has expanded significantly over the past several years, particularly in response to the global coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. This technical report describes the present state of telehealth and its current and potential applications. Telehealth has the potential to transform the way care is delivered to pediatric patients, expanding access to pediatric care across geographic distances, leveraging the pediatric workforce for care delivery, and improving disparities in access to care. However, implementation will require significant efforts to address the digital divide to ensure that telehealth does not inadvertently exacerbate inequities in care. The medical home model will continue to evolve to use telehealth to provide high-quality care for children, particularly for children and youth with special health care needs, in accordance with current and evolving quality standards. Research and metric development are critical for the development of evidence-based best practices and policies in these new models of care. Finally, as pediatric care transitions from traditional fee-for-service payment to alternative payment methods, telehealth offers unique opportunities to establish value-based population health models that are financed in a sustainable manner.

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